How It Works

Founded in 1975, Canine Companions for Independence is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships. Headquartered in Santa Rosa, CA, Canine Companions is the largest non-profit provider of assistance dogs, and is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and the quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people. The result is a life full of increased independence and loving companionship.

Providence Homes became involved with Canine Companions through Bill Cellar’s wife, Joanne, and son, Charlie.

The Joy of Canine Companions

“How do you give them up?” is always the question I hear.

The glib answer is, “She’s not my dog and I have to give her back.”

Most people don’t understand how I could give away Royal, my beautiful female golden retriever. CCI trusted me with a priceless eight-week-old bundle of fur, and I agreed to teach her about 30 commands, escort her to puppy class every week, and take meticulous care of her health. With monthly status reports, CCI tracked our progress together. Then I had to give her back after eighteen months. Though incredibly difficult for me, giving her back wasn’t about the loss of my beloved pup. It was all about the joy of the person who filled out a CCI application.

Royal made a match with Simon, a seven-year-old boy living with severe cerebral palsy. Royal brought the boy to life whenever they were together. These dogs bring independence into lives that need it most. On the day I gave Royal back, there were lots of tears, but mostly of joy from seeing the new life she gave to Simon.

CCI’s slogan is “Exceptional dogs for exceptional people.” What makes these dogs exceptional involves a few simple tasks, but requires loyalty, unconditional love, and friendship.

— Charlie Cellar